The PADI Delayed SMB Specialty

Using a delayed SMB is a skill many dive professionals take for granted – as they have used them so often.  Many forget that first attempt at using one, which often doesn’t go as planned. Ask an instructor who teaches the Divemaster course regularly – they often see the struggles of that first try.  There are also many options for using one.  The chances are that if you ask ten dive professionals about their preferences for using/stowing a delayed SMB, you will get ten differing answers…

PADI IDC, Delayed SMB Specialty Instructor, Platinum Course Director, Divemaster, IDC

Firstly, let’s clear up the difference between an ‘SMB’ and a ‘dSMB’.  ‘SMB’ stands for surface marker buoy, also commonly known as ‘the safety sausage’.  The difference between the two is, basically, where they are inflated – an ‘SMB’ is inflated at the surface, or permanently inflated, whereas a ‘dSMB’ (delayed surface marker buoy) is inflated underwater towards the end of a dive.  An SMB can either be towed for the whole dive, or just used at the surface to signalling the boat if you are a little further away than you thought.

Personally, I much prefer to use a dSMB at the end of every dive.  I like to have a marker on the surface to keep boat traffic away as I ascend with my students, and am not fond of towing an SMB for the whole dive (I don’t dive in areas where this is required by law).

The PADI Delayed SMB Diver Distinctive Specialty is designed for instructors to teach their students how to safely master this skill.  The aim is for us to talk through the different options and try a few different techniques, and the student can decide which they prefer.  We can show them the different methods of inflation – alternate air source, oral, exhaled bubbles, LPI – and also the difference between a reel and a spool (and the different designs of both). We can also discuss and show the option for deploying a dSMB without a reel or line too, and the advantages of an orange line over a white one. I like to mark distances on my lines too so students can see their depth when reeling in and show them how that works. This is also useful when teaching wreck or navigation dives/Specialties.

PADI IDC, Navigation Dive, Reel Spool, dSMB, Specialty Instructor

The students then get to practise this skill under controlled conditions with instructor supervision.  We talk them through the different options during the knowledge development first, and could even do a confined water dive to practise first too.  During the open water dives the students get to first try the skill in a stationary position, and then from mid-water on dive two.  The more different options they can try, the better.  Once deployed, the students then have to swim with the dSMB and make a controlled ascent, reeling the line in. After a safety stop, a final ascent to the surface is made, and the dSMB is stowed for the next dive once back on the boat.

PADI IDC, Delayed SMB, Specialty Instructor, Platinum Course Director Richard Reardon

The correct and safe use of a dSMB is an extremely valuable skill for every diver.  It’s a great course to teach, and students get great satisfaction when they master the skill. As a dSMB Specialty Instructor you can also offer dive one of the Specialty as an Adventure Dive during your Advanced Open Water Courses – another reason for obtaining this Specialty Instructor rating. I would recommend adding it on to your PADI IDC course, or including it in your MSDT Prep programme…

If you’d like more information about this, or any other, PADI Specialty, feel free to send me an email and ask for further details…

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